(JTA) – Former British prime minister Tony Blair has been appointed to head an international organization that fights racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
Blair’s appointment as chair of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), heading a board of former European presidents and prime ministers, was announced Thursday.
The appointment comes a week after Blair announced that he will step down next month as the special Middle East peace envoy of the Quartet, the diplomatic group representing the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, a post he has held since 2007.
“Incidents of extremism, rising anti-Semitism and surging nationalist forces who seek to cultivate a spirit of resentment by playing on people’s fears, threaten our European ideals of freedom, equality and a desire for peace,” Blair said in a statement emailed to JTA announcing his appointment.
“But such intolerance has been rejected before in our history and must be rejected again today. The ECTR stands against such close-minded views – and I am delighted to have this opportunity to work with them to promote our shared vision for the future: societies based on an open-minded, inclusive and tolerant worldview.”
The council’s president, Moshe Kantor, who is also president of the European Jewish Congress, praised Blair’s appointment, calling his experience in working for peace and reconciliation “invaluable.”
“Mr. Blair has worked tirelessly to end conflict and build better societies,” Kantor said. “His international reach will also allow the organization to address globally the fight against anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.”